There continues to be plenty of talk about the Toronto Maple Leafs and one of the questions that will need to be answered over the next season is what to do with goaltender Frederik Andersen.
At times, Andersen looks like a tremendous starting goaltender. At other times, he looks like he did in Game 5 — an unreliable netminder who if given the starting job won’t lead the Maple Leafs past the first round of the postseason.
With one year left on his contract before he becomes a free agent, what should the Maple Leafs do?
Consensus Seems to Be Not to Extend Him
A number of media outlets and scribes took time this past weekend to talk about Andersen’s future with the organization and what might be the best plan of action for general manager Kyle Dubas when it comes to the inconsistent starting goaltender. Most of the media said that extending Andersen now would be a big mistake.
Luke Fox of Sportsnet reports that Andersen’s future is uncertain and that there shouldn’t be a sense of urgency to extend him prior to his contract coming due. He says:
Our bet is the growth has to come around Andersen, that he’ll be given one more shot to finally backstop the Leafs to a playoff series win, and that Jack Campbell should be given a larger share of starts to (a) keep Andersen fresh and (b) discover if Campbell can become a legit 1B.
The assumption here is that if the team doesn’t improve as a whole, there could be much bigger changes ahead than just the goalie.
Elliotte Friedman was asked the question by Jeff Marek on the latest 31 Thoughts Podcast and Friedman said, “I don’t think they’re extending him, if that’s what you’re asking.” Friedman went on to say that there are too many questions surrounding Andersen’s game and too many viable options in a loaded goalie market this offseason.
Friedman is right. With Braden Holtby, Corey Crawford, Robin Lehner, Cam Talbot, Thomas Greiss,Matt Murray, and Anton Khudobin all potentially available, the Maple Leafs can look elsewhere if Andersen doesn’t perform well this coming season.
Will Andersen Get JVR’d?
James Mirtle of The Athletic writes, “The most likely outcome for the Leafs starter is he gets JVR’d: He comes back for the final year of his contract and is allowed to walk as a UFA in 2021.”
Unlike Friedman, Mirtle isn’t sold that any of the available netminders are better than Andersen, but he explains:
But the risk in keeping him is he doesn’t rebound from a trying fourth season in 2019-20. And that being in the final year of his contract is a season-long distraction. The Leafs are going to need to fill this hole at some point; I don’t mind starting that search a year early.
It’s not necessarily the best practice to keep letting free agents leave and the team not get assets in return. That said, it might be better than dishing out a big money contract to a netminder that turns out to be the wrong guy to sink or swim with.
Or, Is Andersen Done in Toronto?
There are others who believe that Andersen has already played his last game in a Maple Leafs uniform. Nick Kypreos said during his Real Kyper show, “I think we’ve seen the last game of Frederik Andersen in a Leafs uniform. Someone whispered to me, keep an eye out for Matt Murray for Andersen 1 for 1.”
Kypreos seemed to believe that Andersen is going to want a commitment from the Maple Leafs now and that neither side wants to go into this season just to “play it out” and see what happens.
Although, that might be exactly what the Maple Leafs want to do.
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